I’ve been bitten by the travel bug.
I flew over for a couple of days of festive Polish goodness, and I’ve got SO much to tell you!
We arrived at our hotel, the lovely Hilton Warsaw, on Saturday afternoon, after a stupidly early wake up call (who knew there were two three o’clocks in a day?), a delayed National Express, and a really nice and quiet flight.
(I’ve flown with Norwegian before, and it’s definitely one of my fave airlines at the moment – mainly because free wifiiiii!)
Whether you’re into sightseeing, nightlife, food, family entertainment, or just want somewhere romantic to visit with someone special – Eastern Europe is definitely where it’s at right now.
So here are five things to do in Warsaw!
1. WARSAW’S OLD TOWN
Warsaw’s Old Town is GORGEOUS.
I spent a delightful morning wandering around on my own, munching on a waffle and sipping hot coffee (and taking aaaaall the photos of colorful buildings).
It was originally established in the 13th century, and nowadays it’s actually a UNESCO World Heritage site.
After it was destroyed by the nazis in World War II, the Polish people built the whole thing back up again, using as many of the original bricks as they could manage.
The facades are GLORIOUS. Tiles, stencils and art work are splashed over every single building, and my Instagram has been going crazy for them.
The annual Warsaw Christmas market is held in Old Town Square, so if you’re there in December – make sure you don’t miss it.
It’s the perfect place for a romantic date!
2. THE RETRO WARSAW TOUR
You may have done city tours before, but I bet you’ve never seen one like this!
Adventure Tours organise “off the beaten track” tours, driving through the city in brightly coloured communist Nysa 522 vans (which might mean something to any car fanatics out there, but I have no clue. All I know is that our van was bright turquoise…)
Our enthusiastic guide picked us up from the Hilton after breakfast (which was excellent) and we spent an amazing morning visiting parts of the city that aren’t regularly seen by tourists.
We saw the remains of Constitution Square and learned the history of the Palace of Science and Culture (did you know the Rolling Stones played a concert there once? And then they went out and bought a ton of vodka with their Polish paycheck.)
Then we wandered through pre-war Warsaw streets, visited the bohemian Praga district, and identified the borders of an old Jewish Ghetto.
We finished the tour at the Communism Museum, learning about the realities of living in the communist era, admiring the 70s style decor, and downing complimentary shots of Polish vodka…
If you’re into history, then this is definitely a tour to look out for!
(Note: you can visit the Life Under Communism museum without doing the tour.)
3. Clubbing at The View
So this was an unexpected one!
I’m not much of a nightclub kind of person. I usually prefer a glass of wine in a pub, to a tequila in a club.
But occasionally, I’ll be in a dancing mood, and suddenly my best friend and I are shimmying in Infernos and OH NOES. HOW DID WE GET HERE.
And that’s a little bit what happened at The View.
We thought we were going for a quiet drink, to check out this skyscraper bar’s fabulous 360 degree view. Kind of like going for a cocktail at The Shard you know?
Then our tour guides dropped the information bomb about it being a nightclub, and we were all a bit sceptical…
But we turned, up and the DJ was playing old school R&B, and suddenly it was 2am, we’d drunk 3 litres of Polish vodka, and had the BEST NIGHT EVER.
You can’t buy individual drinks if you’ve booked a table (which we had), so you have to order bottles (which we did.) And every time you order a bottle of vodka, they send over a bunch of gorgeous girls and silly waiters to dance with sparklers, and it’s both ridiculous and brilliant. (You can watch some of this on my Warsaw vlog!)
The music was amazing, the vibe was incredible and if you’re into clubbing, you NEED to check out The View.
4. COOKING WITH A CELEBRITY CHEF
Kurt Scheller is a famous chef in Poland (even though he’s actually Swiss).
He’s also utterly lovely, and has the best moustache I’ve ever seen on anyone ever. EVER.
He runs cooking masterclasses at his restaurant in Warsaw, and we spent a fantastic afternoon giggling and cooking up a five course Polish feast between all of us.
Each of us was assigned a different task, which meant we all got to have a go at cooking, but it also gave us something to talk about whilst we ate.
Kurt switches up the menu every day, depending on what’s in season and what his guests can eat. We had a mix of allergies, gluten-free and vegans in our midst, and he quickly came up with some new and tasty ideas for their meals.
For most of us, the final menu consisted of: steak tartare; pumpkin soup (this was my dish!); white fish with parsley mashed potato, and a white wine and sour cream sauce; pan-fried duck with giant couscous; and for dessert: poached pears with thick cream flavoured with honey.
Everything was utterly delicious, and it was so nice to get a proper feel for Polish cooking!
5. ICE SKATING AT THE NATIONAL STADIUM
The Warsaw National Stadium is mostly used for football matches (it’s the national team’s home stadium), but in the winter season, it’s transformed into an activity centre, complete with ice rink, underground skate park, and a selection of market stands and bars.
The space is HUGE, and even if you don’t fancy skating, there are plenty of other things to try. It’s the perfect festive activity for families and couples alike.
We were meant to go ice skating, but it had been raining all day and we were all damp, chilled and tired to the bone. So we actually decided to skip it.
Instead, we had a walk around the centre, soaked up the shrieks of delight coming from the ice rink and watched people zip lining from one end of the stadium to the other (check it out on the vlog!).
Then we headed back to our lovely warm hotel for hot baths and a quick nap before dinner…
Safe to say: I LOVED WARSAW.
It’s such an interesting city, with a fascinating history, delicious food (more on that to come!) and a ton of amazing things to do.
I feel like we barely scratched the surface of what Warsaw has to offer, and I’m already planning to go back next year with Gary.
TOP TRAVEL TIP:
Hilton have a system in place where if you book a room through the Hilton HHonors app (which is free), you automatically get exclusive discounts, as well as extra stuff like digital check-in, room selection and Digital Keys for your room.
You also earn Points over time, and then you can redeem them for things like free nights. (Between that and my Air Miles, I’m basically hoping to get discounted travel in some form or another for most of my trips next year!)
Aaaaaand if that’s not enough to convince you, Hilton are currently running a competition where you could WIN A FREE HOLIDAY.
How cool is that?!
You just have to click through to their Facebook page, and answer four questions to find out which Eastern European city would be perfect for you. (Fun fact: apparently I should go to Sofia!)
And that’s it. You’ll be in with a chance to win a weekend trip with Hilton to either Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, Warsaw or Sofia.
GO GO GO!
*I was a guest of Hilton Hotels for this trip to Warsaw.
All thoughts, photos and Polish loving are my own!